Ellen G. White: The Later Elmshaven Years: 1905-1915 (vol. 6)


In Old Portland, Maine, Again

It was Friday, July 2, when the party of travelers—Ellen White, W. C. White, Sara McEnterfer, Helen Graham, and Dores Robinson—stepped off the train at Woodford's Station in northwest Portland (Ibid., December 9, 1909). This was the city of her youth, and what memories it held. Because the church had rather small memberships in the Northeast, Ellen White had made but few trips to Portland; the last was to attend the Maine camp meeting in 1878, with her husband. Now, thirty years later, she looked forward to visiting the environs of her girlhood, but most of all she longed to participate in evangelistic meetings there. 6BIO 210.4

At the station to receive them was Clarence S. Bangs, a nephew she had never met. Bangs was the son of Ellen's twin sister, Elizabeth, who had died a few years before. He operated a grocery business, seemingly quite a profitable one, and was known to Seventh-day Adventists in the vicinity. In fact, he had been instrumental in arranging for the use of Deering's Oaks Park just north of the city for the camp meeting. Ellen White was to be a guest in the Bangs home through the ten or eleven days she would be there. “We had a hearty reception,” she wrote. “He and his wife were glad to meet us.” And she commented, “They are members of the Baptist church. They are well located and he is well situated.” Of the family, she added, “His wife appears to be an excellent woman. They have one child who is off at school in Gorham.”—Manuscript 113, 1909. She was pleased that she could be close to the campground. 6BIO 211.1

During her stay in Portland she visited some of the places of special interest in connection with her early life. When but a child, she with her parents had moved about twelve miles from Gorham to the city. It was here that she attended school till, at the age of 9, she met with the accident that left her an invalid for many years. It was here that she heard the powerful preaching of William Miller, Joshua V. Himes, and others. “The first and second angels’ messages sounded all through Portland,” she wrote, “and the city was greatly moved. Many were converted to the truth of the Lord's soon coming, and the glory of the Lord was revealed in a remarkable manner.” It was here, in Casco Bay, that she was baptized and was taken into the Methodist Church. Across the river in South Portland, in December, 1844, she had received her first vision, a vision of the Advent people traveling to the City of God. She declared, “In the city of Portland, the Lord ordained me as His messenger, and here my first labors were given to the cause of present truth.”—Letter 138, 1909. 6BIO 211.2

In Portland she and James White were married by a justice of the peace in 1846, and here she and her husband had labored together in the early days of the message. But here was a large and important city of the East with only a handful of Seventh-day Adventists. 6BIO 211.3

On Sabbath morning, July 3, Ellen White spoke in the big camp meeting tent, giving lessons from the experience of Israel. In her sermon she declared: 6BIO 211.4

Some think that God is not particular, and that, although He specifies in the commandment the seventh day as the Sabbath, yet because it is more convenient for them to observe another day, God will pass by their deviation from His command. Not one of us can afford thus to presume upon God's forbearance.—The Review and Herald, December 9, 1909. 6BIO 212.1

Early-morning Bible studies were conducted by Elder S. N. Haskell. Others assisted in carrying forward a strong camp meeting with an evangelistic thrust. The daily papers carried favorable reports of the meetings. The weather was good, and the attendance grew from day to day and night to night. Ellen White preached at five of the evening meetings (Ibid., August 5, 1909). 6BIO 212.2

On several evenings Ellen White came early. As the people assembled she was seen walking slowly back and forth at the sides of the tent, eagerly watching the people of the community who were attending. Finally, one night she exclaimed to the other workers, “They are here! They are here! The prominent people I have seen in vision attending these meetings are here!” (as told to the author by WCW). 6BIO 212.3

At one of the meetings she told of her own early experience in the city and of how the people of Portland had been stirred by the proclamation of the Advent message. At that time she declared: 6BIO 212.4

There were powerful speakers, and there was a great deal of visiting from house to house. A deep earnestness characterized the labors of those who took part in this movement....Meetings were held in the homes of believers all through the city, and the Lord wrought with mighty power. 6BIO 212.5

A work is to be carried forward here in Portland as the proclamation of the Lord's coming was carried forward in 1843 and 1844.—Ibid., December 9, 1909. 6BIO 212.6

During the camp meeting a field day was held in which church members spent a portion of the day in house-to-house visitation in the city. This greatly augmented the interest of the general public in the meetings. 6BIO 212.7

Ellen White was widely advertised as the speaker for Sunday afternoon. At the meeting the tent was crowded. Those camping on the grounds were requested to bring all available chairs from their tents, and still there were many who could not find seats. One who was present reported: 6BIO 213.1

Mrs. White spoke with even more than her usual strength and power, and many hearts were melted by her earnest appeals.—D. E. Robinson, in Ibid., December 9, 1909. 6BIO 213.2

Writing of it, she said that “the power of God came upon me, and gave me utterance, as it did during the recent General Conference held at Washington, D.C.”—Manuscript 25, 1910. She was impressed that it was “one of the most solemn meetings” that she had attended for years, as she presented a discourse “accompanied by the manifest power of the Holy Spirit” (Letter 174, 1909). 6BIO 213.3

“I did not stand before them because I felt able,” she wrote later; “I stood there because of the opportunity to let them hear the message of mercy that is being given to the world.”—Manuscript 25, 1910. 6BIO 213.4

For nearly an hour that Sunday afternoon she held the attention of the audience. At the close she made an appeal for a response: 6BIO 213.5

I asked all who would pledge themselves to carry on a personal study of the Scriptures, to find out whether the truths presented before them that day were in accordance with the Word, to rise to their feet. 6BIO 213.6

You can imagine my feelings as I saw nearly everyone in that large congregation standing on their feet, thus pledging themselves before God to search the Scriptures, to find out whether these things were so. The Spirit of God was present in that meeting.— Ibid. 6BIO 213.7

Those connected with the courts, and others high in office, have come out to hear.— Ibid. 6BIO 213.8

As a result of this camp meeting and of the efforts that followed, several have taken hold of the truth.—Letter 174, 1909. 6BIO 213.9

While visiting Portland, she was pleased to see the foundations of a church building being erected by the believers as a place where they might worship, the first Seventh-day Adventist meetinghouse in that important center (Manuscript 81, 1909). She rejoiced that it was only a few blocks from Deering's Oaks Park, so dear to her, for it was there she had spent many pleasant hours as a girl (Letter 193, 1903). She was pleased that the park was close enough to the church that mothers with their restless children could slip over there if the occasion demanded. 6BIO 213.10

For several months after her visit, as she had opportunity, she made appeals for financial help for the work in Portland. Even so, it was necessary for the congregation to worship for some time in the basement of the unfinished building. Later this basement accommodated the church school. Fittingly the edifice became known as the “White Memorial Church.” 6BIO 214.1